Facts About Uranium

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In 1789, a German scientist, Martin Klaproth, discovered uranium from the mineral called pitchblende. Uranium was named after the planet Uranus discovered eight years earlier.

Fact 1. Uranium ore is mined from underground or by open-cut methods depending on the depth of the location of the mineral. The ore is crushed and treated with acid. The end product of the mining and milling stages is uranium oxide concentrate.

Fact 2. Uranium is used in applications for nuclear power and nuclear weapons and has been a topic of interest as uranium can cause environmental problems.

Fact 3. Uranium is known for its emission of interesting yellow and green colors and its fluorescence effects when mixed with glass and other additives. This kind of glass is known as ‘œvaseline glass’ in the U.K. and the U.S. whereas in Germany the glass is known as ‘œAnnagelb’ which means ‘œyellow’ or ‘œAnnagruen’ which means ‘œgreen.’

Fact 4.  Historically, this kind of yellow glass containing more than 1 percent uranium oxide has been found in Naples, Italy dating back to 79 AD.

Fact 5.  In Germany, within the area of fertilizers, uranium added to fertilizers has been found to contain concentrations of up to 401 milligrams of uranium. This concentration has not been declared by manufacturers as there is no statutory, legal requirements on the approved concentration for uranium.

Fact 6. There are two sources for uranium in fertilizers. One is from natural uranium concentrations in phosphate rock that has not been removed during the production of fertilizer. The second source of uranium is from waste solutions from the nuclear factory.

Fact 7. Uranium is found in the Earth’s crust as tin, tungsten, and molybdenum. It is also found in seawater.

Fact 8.  Radiation exposure upon human tissue from uranium usually develops into cancer.  The radiation from each of the nuclides present in uranium impacts human health. These factors depend on the type of radiation and its decay energies as well as the behavior of the nuclide in the human body and the radiation sensitivity of the exposed tissue.

Fact 9. Uranium is also used in the making of ceramic dinnerware, ceramic tiles, uranium glass, and enamel jewelry.

Fact 10. Studies conducted indicated that 20 percent of 15 uranium-glazed ceramic dinnerware tested contained easily removable surface compounds of natural uranium. Vinegar and nitric acid are known to leach uranium from uranium utensils. An individual could ingest approximately 0.21 g. of uranium annually which exceeds chemical toxicity limits.

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